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Surrender to Love

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Album Review

Philadelphia's Kindred the Family Soul — aka Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon — are a married duo that fronts a ten-piece band and plays some of the most inspiring melds of soul, R&B, hip-hop, funk, pop, smooth jazz, and soft rock. Surrender to Love is the act's debut full length — an EP appeared during the previous summer to critical and club acclaim. The quality in all of these self-penned titles is astonishing given what passes for soul these days. One can hear the fine, sweet, emotionally and musically true inspiration of Womack & Womack, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, and Donny Hathaway here, but also the nu-soul grooves of Fertile Ground, Julie Dexter, and YahZarah as well. The shifting jazzy guitars in "Rhythm of Life," as they wind their way around the syncopated vocals, both as exchanged lines between the pair and as a chorus with a hi-hat and rim-shotting snare, make for a gorgeous midtempo groover that crosses the slick jazzy sophistication of Steely Dan with the soul grit of Lauryn Hill and Freda Payne. The album's first single, with its sweet yet spare washes of strings, subtly shaded guitars, and Dantzler's sweet and in-the-pocket tenor phrasing, is a plea for respite from the grimness of urban life. When Graydon hits the chorus and slides in a filler tag, the cut opens up, and when her verse begins, the listener understands that this is a love song above all, and as lovers plead for transcendence with one another, the listener is moved deeply into their wish for deliverance. There are 18 tracks here, and not a one of them is filler. Each moment of Surrender to Love is saturated in both accessibility and integrity. Soul music is far from dead if one listens to Kindred and their peers; they make the argument that no matter how gritty, how grim the circumstance, the struggle is not without merit. Give a listen to "We," with its manifesto of home in a slow-tempo poetic groove. Other standouts — even though it's tough to choose — are "What Happens Now," "Contentment" with its Tuck & Patti airiness, the anthemic "Spread the Word" with its Latin percussion-drenched funk that is equal parts Sly Stone, Ray Barretto, and War, the swinging, jazzed out "If I," which could have been sung by Monday Michiru, and the overdriven hip-hopping funk of "Party's Over." (There's a hidden bonus track after cut 18 so don't take it off prematurely.) This is as impressive a debut as one is likely to encounter in 2003. A mindblower.


Formed: 2002 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Kindred the Family Soul is a Grammy-nominated adult contemporary R&B duo from Philadelphia consisting of husband and wife Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon. Big hit singles eluded them, but they developed a strong following that appreciated their unwavering dedication to releasing relatable and mature R&B. Throughout their career, Dantzler and Graydon co-wrote most of their songs, which were rooted in traditional soul and gospel. They incorporated nuanced contemporary sounds with help from co-producers...
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Surrender to Love, Kindred the Family Soul
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